Bedtime StoriesThe Sawmill Ballroom Lavender Farm
Guide to Growing Lavender
by Joseph Emil Blum

Practical Guidelines for:

Selecting Varieties
Obtaining Stock

The Sawmill Ballroom Lavender Farm began growing lavender almost 15 years ago. We didn’t sit down and decide to start a lavender business, didn’t do tons of agricultural or market research, we just started growing lavender because Nancy loved it, and as a reaction to some lean economic years wanted something in abundance: that something became lavender.

This excerpt is an example of the great information that you'll find in the Sawmill Ballroom Lavender Farm's Guide to Growing Lavender book.

Of course in an hour’s visit to our farm, people see the beauty, the apple trees, the open lawn and thousands of lavender in bloom. What they don’t see is the hours of year round work that go into crafting our grounds. That’s the way it should be -- when you visit some place it should relax and enchant. However, if you're reading this book, you’ve decided to take your interest a step further, and so it is the goal of this book to help you do so without making costly mistakes of time or money.

Whether for personal enjoyment, in landscaping, or as a commercial crop, lavender is a beautiful and rewarding plant. It’s one of the special plants that many people call their favorite. Always popular, in recent years, it has become even more so coinciding with the awareness of its simple beauty, medicinal, psychological, and even spiritual qualities of aromatic Herbs. Presently the demand for lavender is exceeding supply, and while an infusion of new growers will certainly fill this gap, the commercial future of lavender appears healthy, especially for those growers who produce the highest quality.

In the past few years we have received visits and phone calls from many people around the country wanting to know how to grow lavender. Most home gardeners know that lavender is a fairly simple plant to grow, one which requires little and endures much. But, if you are thinking of investing in a larger planting there are things to consider which will help assure your success and save you from wasting money and precious time. We had a lovely couple in their late fifties come to the farm a few years ago. They both held office jobs and he was soon to retire. His plan was to start a lavender farm as their retirement occupation, and while she cautiously stood off to the side, we discussed growing lavender. He was a very careful guy, had done lots of research about how many plants per acre, what variety, and about the suitability of their location. We were excited for him, so we asked a few questions like “How do you plan to mulch?” His befuddled reply: “Mulch?” Then questions about weeding, watering, harvesting, fertilizing, all drew similar befuddled responses. We weren’t trying to burst his bubble, just being honest about things to be aware of to be successful. One of the last questions I asked him was “Who is going to do the work?” To which his wife raised an eyebrow and said “Yes, who is going to do the work?” It wasn’t the first time we had asked someone that question, and it drew the same strange look it always does until we explained, that our farm is primarily the result of two people doing all the working, planning, thinking, and then working hard again. We told him if you enjoy the work, you do it anyway and it feels good, but if you don’t enjoy it, you shouldn’t do it because there’s a lot of work in it. And if you think you’re going to hire out the work, you may want to think again, because labor costs often erase any profit. If you love it, you’ll probably be successful. If you don’t love it and you're looking for a way to get rich, I’d reconsider it. Whichever path you’re on, we wish you the best of luck. Finally, I asked him, “Are you doing this for personal enjoyment, or because you want to make money?” He wasn’t quite ready to answer the question, but at least now he was better prepared to move ahead. To his credit, he was doing what any of you reading this will benefit by doing -- visiting other growers.

As you begin your own entrance into the world of lavender, remember -- a little knowledge will go a long way. While this is by no means a definitive book on growing lavender, it does come with a large body of experience and common sense approach to things. Growing plants, like so many things in life, comes down to patience, knowledge, and care. Best wishes to you and I urge you to have faith that the things you need to know will come to you through your work.